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The New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) : NJ Laws Addressing Auto Theft

Assembly Democrats are committed to keeping our families and communities secure. Recent legislation strengthens the criminal penalties associated with auto theft, with a particular focus on persistent, repeat offenders and large-scale automobile trafficking networks.

A4930/S3390 expands criminal penalties related to the illegal use of motor vehicle master keys. Motor vehicle master keys are key fobs or computer programs that have the ability to operate the locks or start a motor vehicle. Under the bill, individuals who knowingly possess one of these devices or programs for unlawful purposes or advertise these devices or programs knowing that such items are commonly used for unlawful purposes will be guilty of a fourth-degree crime. These provisions do not apply to law enforcement personnel, insurance organizations, or leasing business entities.

A4931/S2284 establishes the crimes of theft of a motor vehicle and receiving a stolen motor vehicle as separate statutory provisions resulting in either a second- or a third-degree crime, depending on the value of the car. Additionally, the bill provides for extended sentences for certain persistent motor vehicle offenders. If an individual has been convicted on two or more prior, separate occasions of carjacking theft, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, or receiving stolen property that is a motor vehicle, then that individual may be subject to an extended term of imprisonment upon request of the prosecutor.

A5034/S3006 expands the crime of “leader of auto theft trafficking network” by amending the definition of said “leader” to include persons who conspire with others as participants to engage for profit or to commit other criminal activity in a scheme or course of conduct to unlawfully take, dispose of, distribute, bring into, or transport motor vehicle or motor vehicle parts as stolen property. The bill also establishes that the “participant in auto theft network” will result in a third-degree crime.

A5189/S3777 eliminates the presumption of pretrial release for defendants charged with certain motor vehicle theft offenses if the defendant was arrested or convicted of a prior motor vehicle theft offense within the 90-day-period preceding the charge. Under the bill, the presumption of pretrial release would not apply to an eligible defendant charged with theft of or unlawful taking of a motor vehicle or receiving stolen property where the property involved is a motor vehicle if on one or more prior and separate occasions during the 90-day-period preceding the charge, the defendant was arrested for or convicted of theft of or unlawful taking of a motor vehicle; receiving stolen property where the property involved is a motor vehicle; or a crime under any statute of the United States, this State, or any other state that is substantially equivalent to any of the crimes listed above.

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